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Study finds that probiotics can help improve pain experienced by children with recurrent abdominal pain

Posted on January 10th 2019

PenCLAHRC researchers have published further findings from their review of the use of probiotics for the management of recurrent abdominal pain in children.

Recurrent abdominal pain is the second commonest reason for seeing a paediatrician after asthma. Affected children can be deeply distressed, and can often miss out on school and social activities.  

PenCLAHRC Evidence Synthesis Team member, Dr Rebecca Abbott and University of Exeter researchers, Dr Tamsin Newlove-Delgado and Dr Alice Martin, brought together the research from recent updated Cochrane reviews in a clinical evidence review for JAMA Pediatrics.

They found that after three months of taking probiotics, in particular Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, children in the included research trials were significantly more likely to experience an improvement in pain, compared to those taking a placebo. Reductions in pain frequency and intensity were also associated with taking probiotics as part of a management strategy.

The team’s update of a 2009 Cochrane review included 19 randomised trials and more than 1450 participants, and looked at dietary approaches to treating recurrent abdominal pain.

“Compared with placebo, children who were treated with probiotic preparations were more likely to experience improvement in pain in the short term… suggesting that clinicians could consider probiotics as part of a holistic management strategy in recurrent abdominal pain,” the research team wrote in JAMA Pediatrics

In addition, the team found no sound evidence to suggest that taking fibre supplements, or undertaking other diets such as low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (low FODMAP diets) had a positive impact on pain reduction in recurrent abdominal pain.

Professor Stuart Logan, an author on the Cochrane reviews and a consultant paediatrician said: “Recurrent abdominal pain is unpleasant and upsetting for children and parents and treatment remains controversial. Although this review doesn’t provide clear evidence to recommend one particular probiotic over another, or recommend a particular dose, it does appear from the evidence that we can suggest to families coming to clinic that they give probiotics a try”.  

Read more here.

 

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